OpenSUSE Linux Rants

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September 26, 2007

ID3 Tag Management on your Local Linux Box

by @ 10:44 am. Filed under Linux tips

Sitting at your Linux machine, tunes gently streaming from your favorite media player, such as Amarok, you are in the zone. You look down and gasp in horror as you come to the realization:

The ID3 tags on your MP3s are wrong!

*INSERT HORRIFIC CLICHE HERE*

What on this earth shall you do to overcome this cataclysmic catastrophe?

Why you install EasyTAG, of course!

According to the package description:

“EasyTAG is an utility for viewing and editing tags for MP3, MP2, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, MusePack and Monkey’s Audio files. Its simple and nice GTK+ interface makes tagging easier under GNU/Linux.”

You can use it to batch rename your media files according to the ID3 tags. You can even take an existing tag and apply it to all the highlighted media files.

Here’s a screenshot (click to make big):

September 25, 2007

Excel no longer able to multiply correctly – better use OpenOffice

by @ 10:13 am. Filed under War

You know it’s bad for Microsoft’s financial department, especially with the kind of numbers they crunch, when they can’t even perform basic multiplication. Seriously, people. it’s been 20 years, figure it out.

What am I talking about?

The “Excel 2007 Multiplication Bug,” as outlined on Slashdot:

“The example that first came to light is =850*77.1 – which gives a result of 100,000 instead of the correct 65,535. It seems that any formula that should evaluate to 65,535 will act strangely. One poster in the forum noted these behaviors: ‘Suppose the formula is in A1. =A1+1 returns 100,001, which appears to show the formula is in fact 100,000… =A1*2 returns 131,070, as if A1 had 65,535 (which it should have been). =A1*1 keeps it at 100,000. =A1-1 returns 65,534. =A1/1 is still 100,000. =A1/2 returns 32767.5.'”

How many ways do I love open source? Let me count the ways. But not in Excel.

And before you get ahead of yourself, OpenOffice does this calculation properly:

Better switch to open source if you are doing any important financial spreadsheets.

September 21, 2007

Install Downloaded RPM in YAST

by @ 11:11 am. Filed under SUSE Tips & Tricks

Sam wrote in asking me a great question. Sometimes you have a stand-alone RPM that you have downloaded. The problem now is how to get it installed, especially if you want dependencies to automatically be resolved.

Hi Scott,

I want to thank you for writing the “Easiest Linux Guide Ever”. You are a felicitous writer.

If I’m not taking much of your time, I wanted to tell you that I still can’t figure out how to use YAST to install Flash 9.0 (RPM package).

If you can tell me, or point out to me how to proceed, I’d be much obliged.

Sam

Sam,

Thanks! I’m glad you enjoy the writing.

There are two things you could do. You can either install it from the command line using RPM, for example:

rpm -Uvh flash-rpm-package-here.rpm

The problem here is that it doesn’t automatically install dependencies.

The other thing is that you can create your own installation repository (super easy) with createrepo. Install the createrepo package. Then, you create a directory which you will use as the repository. Dump the RPM in there. Then, you run the createrepo command on that directory. For example, you make a directory called /my_inst_src. You then place the flash rpm in there. Then run this command:

createrepo /my_inst_src

You then go into YAST and add that directory as an installation source.

You should now be able to go into YAST and install it just like you do any other RPM. Dependencies should be resolved as usual, should any exist.

Hope that helps.

Scott

September 20, 2007

Announcing openSUSE 10.3 RC1

by @ 10:54 am. Filed under General SUSE, SUSE releases

From the homies out in Germany:

Hi!

After quite some rebuilds and testing, I’m happy to announce that RC1 looks 

brilliant and I’m hoping you’re looking forward as much as I did to update
all your computers to it.

Important Changes Since Beta3
=============================
 * libzypp 3.24
 * a second DVD9 titled "all the rest" (for the retail box)

 * Virtualbox 1.5
 * OpenOffice.org 2.3RC3
 * countless bug fixes in every component
 * 485 packages submitted

 * 535 bugs RESOLVED/FIXED
 
A more detailed list of changes is available via
http://en.opensuse.org/Factory/News .

Most Annoying Bugs
==================
 * Online update opens an annoying popup with the progress. We’ll prepare 

   an online update for it, so it will only affect the first update
 * On some machines we have problems with the kernel and ACPI – investigating,

   more data would be helpful
 * GNOME is not yet final – we will update this right after RC1 and prepare

   a RC2. This one will be internally, but you can get the update through
   Factory

 * 32bit PPC machines have a problem with dependencies that try to install
   64bit RPMs.

 * The bootloader config is not written out correctly on some updates
 * The sudo config on the live CD is broken

We’ll keep http://en.opensuse.org/Bugs:Most_Annoying_Bugs_10.3_dev updated
as we go.

Call for Testing
================

If you want to help testing our standard test cases, please coordinate with
others and subscribe to opensuse-testing!

(http://en.opensuse.org/Communicate/Mailinglists)

There is no focus area, please use the product as if it was final and you 

wanted to use it for real.

Please note that the live CDs will contain an installer, but that installer is 

still under development, so you can test it, but be more careful than with 
the normal install.

Media and Download
==================
openSUSE 10.3 RC1 for i386, x86-64 and ppc is available as different media

sets:
 * 1 DVD containing OSS and NonOSS software
   languages supported: English, Portuguese, French, Italian, Spanish,

   German, Chinese (Simpl. & Trad.), Japanese, Russian, Czech, Hungarian,
   Polish, Finnish, Danish, Swedish, Dutch
 * 1 CD with a default KDE installation (not for ppc, English-only)

 * 1 CD with a default GNOME installation (not for ppc, English-only)
 * 1 AddOn CD with only NonOSS packages

 * 1 AddOn CD with language packages that are used for extra languages (only
   to be used with DVDs!)

 * DVD containing the sources corresponding to the media
 * 1 Live CD for both KDE and GNOME

openSUSE 10.3 RC 1 is available for immediate download from
 * http://software.opensuse.org/developer and
 * http://en.opensuse.org/Development_Version#Downloads (which also includes

   links to Delta ISOs)

Greetings, Stephan

— 
SUSE LINUX Products GmbH, GF: Markus Rex, HRB 16746 (AG Nürnberg)

— 
To unsubscribe, e-mail: opensuse-announce+unsubscribe@xxxxxxxxxxxx
For additional commands, e-mail: opensuse-announce+help@xxxxxxxxxxxx

September 18, 2007

Top 9 Things Thunderbird Will Need to ‘Make It’

by @ 12:39 pm. Filed under sweet tools, Thunderbird

Thunderbird

When it comes to communication, my preferred method is either email or IM. The telephone thing really doesn’t do it for me too much. While I do spend a great amount of time typing into a Gaim/Pidgin chat window each day, it’s my email application that takes the cake. Am I an email addict? Not really. It’s actually the additional functionality provided by my email client that makes it so absolutely useful.

Let me borrow a quote from my upcoming ebook on the topic:

“If you are like me, having a great personal information management system ranks right up there in necessity with Oxygen itself. Tens of thousands of email messages find their way into my inbox each week. Then there is all of the tech news which is required reading each day. Don’t forget that there are eleven full address books on my system that need to be maintained very carefully. Also, what about the appointments? We need some kind of scheduling system. How am I going to remember to pick up some milk on the way home from work? Need those task lists. By the way, reminder pop-ups would be nice, too. And please make sure that we can access all of this from different computers, and share it all with other users.”

“Truth be told, myriads of information management systems are available these days. Especially if you count all the commercial solutions. A common solution is to pay $15,000 to license Microsoft Exchange, and then another $400 per computer for Microsoft Office, which includes Outlook. Because lots of folks don’t have that kind of money, and even less tolerance for all the security risks involved with this solution, we have to find something else.”

I do all my scheduling in my email client of choice. I can even collaborate and sync calendars with other users. The address book is also synchronized with other people. Every one of my tasks has its home there. It manages each one of my 150+ RSS feeds with rules and filters.

So what is this overly amazing email client? It’s Thunderbird, of course.

Before I get flooded with comments to the effect, no one knows better than I do that Thunderbird supports almost none of this by default. It does email, address book and RSS. The scheduling, synchronizing of the schedule, synchronizing of the calendar, and task management are all provided by extensions.

How to get all this set up and working is the subject of my forthcoming ebook.

Apparently, I’m not completely up in the night with my desire to have Thunderbird as the solution for all my organizational needs. Mozilla has announced its desire for Thunderbird to enjoy the same success as Firefox. They will set up a subsidiary, tentatively called MailCo, with about $3 Million, placing David Ascher as the CEO and go from there. One of their primary concerns is having to compete with Outlook. In other words, calendar collaboration, a unified address book directory, tasks, todos, appointments, and so forth. I have spent the past 2 months learning ways to set this stuff up in Thunderbird.

With that, what will Mozilla need to put into Thunderbird to make it even more appealing in the eyes of potential users?

Calendar Collaboration – Thunderbird will need to have the ability to share calendars with other people. I’m certain that I’m not the only one who will also want to view others’ calendars, as well. We will want to be able to manage those calendars very easily. Let’s have abundant support for things like repeating events. Make it nice and easy to manage. Give us the ability to invite other people, and also allow us to notify other people of impending events. Also, it would be spectacular if I could give read-only rights to some people for my calendar, and full read-write permissions to other people. When an event is coming up, it would be nice to have a customizable notification. Oh, I will also likely want to have notifications via pop-up, email, and likely SMS (if I’m away from the desk).

Address Book Directory – How about the ability to share address books with people? I have a couple of business ventures that I am involved with. I also have quite an extended family. It would be nice to maintain different address books for the different groups. Again, read-only and read-write access would be nice to grant as necessary. How about the ability to import and export contacts from many different formats?

Mailing List Support – For years, I used a mailing list software on Windows called “Arrow Mailing List Server“. It would be really nice to have a large part of this type of mailing list functionality built into Thunderbird. There are thousands of mailing lists that exist out on the Internet. People use them quite a bit. Email clients like Foxmail have this built in. Why not Thunderbird? Personally, this has a very big appeal to me to create mailing lists for my family and friends.

Task Management – This would have the ability to classify tasks into different categories. Also, we’ll need to assign different importance to different tasks. No, I don’t mean, “low,” “medium,” and “high.” Let’s have the ability to select a number from a drop-down, say from 1 to 25. The task management system needs to have a percentage done for each task. Oh, I’d also like to sort my task list by the category, the priority, and the percent done. As well as assign tasks to other people. Along with the usual read-only and read-write privileges for me to grant other people for my task list. Of course this means that we’d also need to be able to share task lists with other people. Hey, maybe we could even put Gantt chart functionality in here?!

Real Spam Filters – Surely you could build better spam detection tools. Collaborate with the Spamato folks and they’ll hook you right up. For now, one can use their extension. But wouldn’t it be absolutely spectacular if Thunderbird shipped with that functionality right out of the box? I’m absolutely sick to death of spam. Fix this please.

Extension List – Wouldn’t it just be swell to have a list right in Thunderbird of all the extensions that are compatible with it? And whether or not they are installed. Also, let’s have as much detail on each one as possible. That way, the MailCo folks won’t have to work so hard so fast, especially when incredible functionality already exists as an extension. Such is the case with Spamato. They could focus on other areas first.

Text Chat – This could be something as simple as working with the Gaim/Pidgin (or Kopete) project to provide some amount of interactivity with that software. There is no point in reinventing the wheel, here. Simply providing information as to whether the sender of the current email message is online or offline would be nice. Maybe providing some kind of button on the Thunderbird interface to initiate a chat with that person. It then pops up your IM client and opens the chat window for you to start typing your message. It would be nice to quickly glance at a contact list to see who on that list is currently online or offline, as well.

Voice Chat – Could initially start as a collaboration with something like Skype. Again, why re-create everything? We don’t need to have the NIH attitude involved here. Plug into something that already works well. A simple API would do nicely to accomplish this. Just to let me know whether I can initiate a voice chat with them, and a small button to do just that.

Faster UI – One of the things that makes me homicidal is waiting. Do not make me wait for a button rollover to appear when I move the mouse cursor over it. The number of RSS feeds it is pulling and processing is irrelevant. I don’t care if it is in the middle of indexing 200,000 messages. Do not make me wait. When a button is clicked, let’s see it do its function.

Ok, so I threw the last one in as a personal preference. I would bet my house that, if Thunderbird does end up a huge success, you will find the majority of this functionality in it in one form or another.

Thunderbird also has some spectacular themes. Take a look at “The Top 10 Best Themes for Thunderbird 2.0.”

Reason 54,872 to use Linux : Log Detail

by @ 7:03 am. Filed under General Linux, My Opinion, War

Let’s face it, Linux is better than Windows.

Actually, rather than open that can of worms, I would like to supply just one of the tons of reasons that I believe many system administrators would prefer Linux.

When you are trying to troubleshoot a problem, information about that problem is invaluable. Take, for example, the logging capabilities of the proprietary alternative.

I was called in (I still marvel over why) to work one day to figure out what happened to our Exchange server. What on earth possesses anyone to think I know or care anything about that… ? Anyway, they called me in, and I went. First thing I did when I got there was to go hunting for the system log. The extent of the information I found can be summarized in this screenshot:

Hmm… “The previous system shutdown at 4:49:45 AM on 8/11/2007 was unexpected.” Congratulations, thank you for that insightful bit of noteworthy and informative enlightenment. I had no idea that the shutdown was unexpected, even though that is PRECISELY why I am sitting in front of the computer to begin with.

In other words, the “Event Log” on Win32 platforms is technically correct, but absolutely useless.

In Linux, I can go to any one or more of several different logs, and I can even create my own should I so choose. We have /var/log/messages as the main system log. There are also others, like the mail log, the apache log, the php log, and the database log. Should I write a script that has custom output messages, I can send them to any other output file I wish by using the “>” symbol and redirecting the output to that file.

Without helpful and informative logs, I would likely not have been able to solve issues such as this that cropped up last September.

Helpful, detailed, descriptive, informative debugging and error logs: yet another reason to use Linux.

Heh, did you hear about how Vista was attacked by a 13-year-old virus?!

That would have to qualify as another spectacular reason to choose Linux over proprietary systems. You’re less likely to get viruses.

September 17, 2007

Manhandle that PDF on OpenSUSE Linux

by @ 1:23 pm. Filed under General Linux, review, sweet tools

So I bought a new motorcycle a couple of weeks ago. It is a Kawasaki KLR650 (street-legal and rides well in dirt). I took ‘er out Friday for a spin amongst the vast hilly region to the west and south of my house, just about all of which belongs to the Bureau of Land Management (sweet, this means no neighbors on that land). There are some fun and interesting things to be found there.

I had gone up this really sweet incline, the view from which was cool and all that. Proceeding back down the incline, I realized that I was riding almost entirely in the finely powdered dirt commonly found in that area. All too quickly, I discovered that when you apply the rear brake going down an powdered incline, the back tire locks up readily. Problem is, going down hill, using the front brake is a no-no because if that baby locks up, you are gonna eat some dirt (and perhaps a rock or two).

About that moment, my guts shoot up into my throat as I realize that I am now headed down a steep, curvy incline essentially with no brakes. As I’m bouncing down that hill, wrestling the 337-lb bike to stay on it, I realize something… “Boy, it would sure be cool to have a good PDF manipulation tool.”

Well, the story has a happy ending, because I found that pdftk (included in openSUSE) can do an astonishing number of things with and to a PDF. Not only that, it can handle multiple PDFs at once. Go, Linux.

Bunches of Open Source applications exist that allow PDF creation, such as OpenOffice, Firefox, KGhostView, etc. Every once in awhile, you need to cut out some pages, or combine multiple PDFs. Maybe you want to rotate some pages, grab metrics, add watermarks, or even repair a corrupted PDF. pdftk does all of this.

One of the reasons I use it is to merge several PDFs into one. This is very simple:

pdftk first.pdf second.pdf third.pdf cat output final.pdf

A superb page with large amounts of great info on pdftk is right here.

pdftk is a lifesaver when you need to manipulate PDF files. Take a look.

In all fairness, pdftk will actually work on Windows and Mac, in addition to Linux.

September 15, 2007

SCO Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

by @ 10:11 am. Filed under General Linux, Linux News, My Opinion, novell

SCO has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. I really hope that this is the early stages of decomposition for this company. Yes, there will likely be parties all over the world in celebration of this event. My guess, based on the history of this trainwreck involving SCO, is that Daryl McBride won’t give it up until the power to continue is removed from him. Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows the SCO Group to reorganize their company and have their assets protected. Did you see all of their creditors? Here:

* Amici LLC ($500,650.73),
* Boies Schiller (287,256.39),
* Canopy Group ($139,895.00),
* Gre Mountain Heights Property ($132,502.00),
* Microsoft Licensing, Inc. ($125,575.00),
* Sun Microsystems, Inc. ($50,000.00),
* Veritas Software ($37,881.33),
* Intel ($23,302.11),
* Fujitsu Services ($25,302.11),
* HP-Nonstop Royalty Accounting ($25,302.11…hmm. exactly the same amount for three entities),
* Unisys ($25,302.11 – a fourth),
* KSJ Consulting ($21,781.25),
* 4Front Technologies ($10,417.50),
* Silverman Heller Associates ($10,352.35),
* Madson & Austin ($8,478.32),
* Randd Strategic ($7,026.79),
* Sage Forensic Accounting ($6,221.00),
* Profile Consulting ($5,450.00),
* Sun Microsystems Inc. Software Royalty Accounting Group ($5,414.40) and
* AmLaw Discovery ($5,399.57).

Who’s not on there? *NOVELL*! Well, I guess the final amount owed to Novell by SCO has not been officially determined, but my guess it will eclipse any other amount found on this list of creditors.

Whatever happens, I cannot possibly see how this will turn out well for SCO. This then makes it apparent that this is a fight based off principles. They are doing it for the principle of the thing, not because they are actually going to win. Seriously Daryl, give it up, bro.

SCO Bankruptcy
SCO Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – Slashdot
SCO Files For Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – Updated <= Lots of great info The SCO Group Files Chapter 11 to Protect Assets as It Addresses Potential Financial and Legal Challenges

September 13, 2007

Flight Simulator in Google Earth

by @ 12:03 pm. Filed under computer tips

I found something in Google Earth I thought was pretty interesting. Apparently, there is a flight simulator built into the latest beta.

To get to it, you press CTRL+ALT+A. In Linux, this took about 10 tries to get it to activate.

To get started, hold down PG UP for a bit to kick in the throttle, and then press the down arrow to pull up.

If you want to take a look at all the commands, check out the Flight Simulator Keyboard Controls.

Here’s the screenshot of me flying over my house:

BootUtils – Seeker of the Root Volume

by @ 10:56 am. Filed under General Linux, Linux News

I have seen this a couple of places… and I wanted to share it. Linux is already a spectacular operating system. Every so often, a project comes onto the scene that takes some part of Linux up a notch to the next level. This project appears to be such a thing. It’s called BootUtils. Very cool project. Description from the project page:

“BootUtils is a collection of utilities to facilitate booting of modern Kernel 2.6 based systems. BootUtils is designed for initramfs, although volunteers to add support for initrd are welcome. The process of finding the root volume either by label or explicit label= on the kernel command line, mounting it and ‘switchroot’ing is automated. BootUtils can also drop to emergency shell if the root volume cannot be mounted. Why not even start sshd and allow admin login if the box is in a remote location?”

This sounds like something that will improve Linux just that much more. Very cool.

September 11, 2007

Reboot a locked Linux box with the Magic SysRq Keys

by @ 3:25 pm. Filed under General Linux, How-To

I ran across this rather informative Wikipedia page about something called the “Magic SysRq key.” It is a mechanism built into the kernel that allows you to reboot a machine without having to hold in the Power button. Because your disks don’t have a chance to sync, and other complications that can occur with such a shutdown, this is a great alternative. If your system becomes completely unresponsive, this is a forceful way to reboot the machine, but more graceful than the 6-second power button charade.

First, to see if your machine is set up to do this, run this command:

cat /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq

If you see a “0”, it is disabled. If you see a “1”, it is enabled.

To enable it, do this:

echo 1 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq

To disable it, do this:

echo 0 > /proc/sys/kernel/sysrq

Once you have it enabled, you can proceed to perform the operation.

To do this, you will need to hold down the ALT and SYSRQ (or PRINT SCREEN) buttons while typing the following key sequence:

(taken from wikipedia)

Alt + SysRq + R – takes the keyboard out of raw mode.

Alt + SysRq + E – terminates all processes (except init).

Alt + SysRq + I – kills all processes (except init).

Alt + SysRq + S – synchronizes the disk.

Alt + SysRq + U – remounts all filesystems read-only.

Alt + SysRq + B – reboots the machine.

One thing to keep in mind, however, is that you will want to give the machine time to complete each command, especially time between the last three commands. You want to make sure that the machine syncs the disk before remounting the filesystems, and you want to wait a moment to reboot the machine after it performs the remount.

September 10, 2007

AWStats Page Tells It Like It Is

by @ 9:52 am. Filed under humor


I wish everyone would do this. 🙂

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